In April 1854 the Pennsylvania legislature did a good thing: it chartered the first black college in America.
Ashmun College was established in Chester County, then mostly farmlands west of Philadelphia. In 1866 the college was renamed Lincoln University.
The college website says it was "the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent." Among its alumni are Langston Hughes ‘29 and Thurgood Marshall ‘30.
Today LU is co-ed, is actually if not substantially racially and ethnically diverse, and has about 2,000 students who are working on bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Resident tuition/room/board adds up to just over $20,000. In the current environment of soaring college costs, that’s a strikingly affordable pricetag for a college degree.
I say the Pennsylvania legislature did a good thing in 1854 because in 1854 it was a good thing to establish a college for black men. No governmental entity, and probably no private venture, would do the same thing today. Our public sensibilities and mores forbid it.
It’s too bad there isn’t a compensating public impulse to offer accessibly-priced college education to all the young men and women who aren’t white with upper-socio-economic parents.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.